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Earn some Karma - Save my butt! Answered

Okay, I've found users of this site to be some of the most industrious and handy people on the 'nets. So hear my plea: long story short, I dumped a significant amount of black tea (with cream) right into the vent of my Western Digital 1 TB external hard drive (luckily I'd unplugged it about 2 minutes ago). I'd just finished putting EVERYTHING that is mine and digital onto this, and a significant portion of other copies got deleted. Show me please your instructability on how to clean this confounded thing! I'm all ears... PS I'm a new member and if I get help with this I will post (tonight) my first instructable on a GUARANTEED heart-melting confection for Valentine's that's been in my family for years and years (and is delightfully simple to make). Thanks for your time -B **EDIT** Thanks for the responses guys, "wipe it off" is sage advice indeed. I was thinking though of somehting like an alcohol/water solution to rinse the affected area once I get home to my tools and see what went down. Thoughts?


Whatever you do, make sure you don't plug it in until you are sure all the moisture has dried. As someone already said, use those little silica gell packs or sodium polyacrylate if you have any to aid the drying. The good news is, the actual disks in most hard drives are vacum sealed inside the enclosure, which is sealed with epoxy, so you probably haven't damaged that, althoguh chances are, there are electronics on the bottom. If it doesn't work and you have a similar hard drive, you can usually unplug the driver circuit from the bottom and replace it assuming its from a similar hard drive. Cleaning it with isopropyl alcohol or de-ionised, distilled water will also help clean any residue.

To aid in drying it out, you can put it in a ziplock bag or sealed container with as many of those silica Gel packets (DO NOT EAT!) that come shipped in everything from shoes to electronics. Unless you've already eaten them, in which case you are in another world of trouble.

The silica absorbs moisture, making the air less humid, which aids in pulling moisture off of whatever is in the container with the packets.

You can also bake your wet electronics in the oven set on something VERY low, like 115 - 140 degees Fahrenheit. Unless your electronics are made of wax, this low temp should be OK. You can leave them in for several hours. I have used this successfully on phones and other electronics. I've heard this recommended for people that live on sailboats and have problems with their laptops.

Thanks for the replies guys! Final result: I just didn't touch the bloody thing for like, nearly a month. THen I plugged it in. Guess what's hooked up to my computer RIGHT now chugging right along? That's right! Go Western Digital! (although on an unrelated note my mom has had two WD external HDs completely crash on her now)


7 years ago

I would suggest that after you have dried it off etc... when you start it up the next time if it works back up all of your data immediately, as things like cellphones will work for a short time and then just die... things will usually come back from a soaking in clean water ... the problem with tea is the milk and sugar that is involved... sugar degrades components.

Best thing to do is either borrow or buy a new drive when your old one starts working again and make a duplicate copy

there are certain bits of softwear that is available that can sometimes take the information off hard drives, it could be worth going to a computer shop to see if they can plug it in and manually recover atleast some of the data

I *really* hope you get it sorted dude, there's nothing worse than things like this happening... it makes me feel sick just thinking about it, i feel for you dude honestly

Well, if the tea managed to get into the had drive itself, and onto the platters, it is more than likely dead. Plus opening it up to clean the platters would kill it. I've seen what a small scratch did to a hard drive (read-write head flew across the room at what seemed like 100 mph). BTW, this hard drive I am talking about was not sealed properly, and the only thing keeping stuff out of it was the manufacturer's sticker. Hopefully yours was not some cheap one like this. However, if it did not get into the hard drive itself, then letting it air dry for a couple of days might be the best bet, as everyone else has said.

Oh, and how about posting an iBle on how to save an external hard drive from a tea related death if fix it?

as has been said here in bits and pieces, the cover should probably be taken off, and maybe if the tea got inside, a bit of rinsing with (mostly) water with a wee bit of mild detergent dissolved in....alcohol "might" remove / soften some things meant to keep moisture and air out. Dry it out, and then let it dry on it's own for a day or so. Once all that is done, you have only to fry er I mean test it. :-0

PS: I once owned a car that was... oh wait, that was a Karmann Ghia :-)

oh... the karma thing. that took me 2 days to get. Nice car though, if you really did :D

The only VW's that rusted faster then a Karmann Ghia were the THING and the "baby carriage" (convertible bug) unless it was taken real special care of. Otherwise, I nice little sporty car. I always did like the old VW bolt together idea of replacement, unless you lived near the ocean....then the salt water prevented bolts from being "removed" after a year or so :-)

Yeah so my backpack was on the floor as I was packing up my stuff. I nestled the HD in a t shirt but didn't cover the top... I had one of those contoured travel mugs with a few fingers' worth of tea left in the skinny bottom part. I put an object in the top, a squat cylinder maybe 1 by 3 in the top part earlier in the day. I reached to pull it out and it kind of flattened out, so that i'd have to turn the cup upside-down to retrieve it. I was in a rush, so bada bing, I dumped tea all over my stuff. OOPS. Okay i'm going to post ye olde instructable.

Ok not a computer whiz by any means but I had a simular accident...coke and a 2 year old. Anyway I pulled it apart dried it with a soft cloth used a blow drier and than waited 2 days...a miracle it still works

You should post the Valentine's instructable anyway. Black tea + external hard drive = death. You could try turning it on and seeing if it works after it dries.

haha sage advice. I was thinking an alcohol-distilled water solution to rinse it out, once i get home to my tools, any comments or tips with that would be appreciated. Post the story later on, gotta make a run. 7up guy you're annoying as hell in those commercials but it was in a backpack on the floor... keep yall updated once I get the guts open

Hmm First as Doctor What said : "DRY IT OFF" The second I would open it and dry it with a hairdryer ! seal it up let it dry for a day or two and hope for the best ! The longer you wait for it to dry the better the chance you have of getting it running Then get your receipt and head wherever you got it and try to get it replaced. Would you mind explaing how th incident happened? (said below I cant take credit for the question).

hmmm....., one question, how'd you even dump the tea in? you must have had it on the ground or something??? I'd open it up and see the damage.